Jarvis Landry being healthy will be critical to Browns turnaround

Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Jarvis Landry is off the PUP list and already impressing at Browns training camp.

Despite the arrival of Odell Beckham Jr. with the Cleveland Browns prior to the 2019 season and all of the buzz that created, it was his former LSU teammate, Jarvis Landry, who led the team in receiving last season. Landry outclassed Beckham in targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns on the year, registering 138, 83, 1,174 and six, respectively, in those categories.

Focus has remained on Beckham heading into the 2020 NFL season as the hope for a better (and healthy) year two in Cleveland is renewed. Yet the health of Landry has been in question throughout the offseason, even entering training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

Landry has never missed a game in his NFL career, four spent with the Dolphins and two with the Browns. However, offseason hip surgery and an unclear timetable for recovery left that in doubt. Yet, as on-field OTA-style practices have gotten underway, Landry was activated off the PUP list and was on the field.

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Not only that but, per ESPN’s Jake Trotter from Saturday’s training camp practice, Landry looked good. He reportedly caught a long touchdown pass and made several other plays as well. Trotter stated that the Browns’ initial plan had been to move him along slowly but he appears to be a ready and willing participant in the shortened camp. And that’s tremendous news for Cleveland.

The Browns need a healthy Jarvis Landry to thrive in the 2020 season.

Make no mistake, a healthy OBJ in a revamped Browns offense — especially one in which Baker Mayfield improves after a down second season in the league. However, with new head coach Kevin Stefanski taking over the offense, Landry may be every bit as critical to the success on that side of the ball and overall.

In Minnesota, Adam Thielen became a star working out of the slot in Stefanski’s offense. Thielen accumulated 295 targets in the 2017-18 seasons, ending up with 204 receptions for 2,649 yards and 13 touchdowns over that span. He was limited to only 10 games and not all of those played healthy in 2019 but Stefanski continuously relied on his pass-catcher out of the slot.

That’s where Landry has thrived throughout his entire career. He’s a fearless and tough competitor in the middle of the field, unafraid of contact, and a player who has consistently boasted impressive target and reception totals. Subsequently, he figures to be an ideal fit for Stefanski’s offense considering the usage of the slot receiver.

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More importantly, the Browns don’t have a replacement for Landry. There is intriguing depth with Rashard Higgins and rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones overall but, in terms of the proven slot weapon, Landry stands alone. Subsequently, that he’s healthy and already showing off at training camp is an immensely positive outcome early on in the proceedings.